lemony spinach carbanara

lemon & spinach carbonara

This is a vegetarian twist on the classic Carbanara sauce. It contains only 5 ingredients, is very quick to make and is one of the most delicious pastas I’ve eaten in a while.

This is a perfect supper for two  whip up in 20 minutes and is packed with flavour. I like to use whole-wheat pasta as I enjoy the slightly nutty flavour,  and its lower in GI than regular pasta.

lemony spinach carbanara

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: serves 2

lemony spinach carbanara


  • 150g whole-wheat linguini (or any long pasta of your choice)
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 60ml / 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 60ml / 1/4 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese (and a bit extra for sprinkling)
  • 2 - 3 cups of baby leaf spinach
  • zest of one small lemon - finely grated
  • salt & pepper


  1. Bring a pot of salty water to the boil and cook your pasta until al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking - get all your other ingredients ready and waiting: Grate the Parmesan cheese and measure out the creme fraiche. Beat the egg.
  3. Drain the pasta over a bowl, reserving some of the cooking liquid.
  4. Immediately put the pasta back into the pot it was cooking in, back on the stove and add a splash (about 1/4 cup) of the cooking liquid.
  5. Add the spinach and stir it through the pasta, and put the lid on the pot and flash steam the leaves for a minute or two. Stir once or twice more to ensure the spinach is mixed into the pasta and is cooked. Turn off the heat.
  6. Add the creme fraiche and lemon zest to the beaten egg and mix. Stir this through the very hot pasta and spinach to coat all the strands. The carry-over heat from the pasta will cook the egg. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir to fully to combine and then put the lid back on the pot for a minute or so to allow it all to integrate.
  7. Check if it needs salt and pepper. It should be quite salty from the cheese and the pasta water.

so simple and so delicious

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26 Responses to lemony spinach carbanara

  1. good food May 3, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Perfect recipe for pasta. I love pasta with lemon and spinach

  2. Sam May 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    Thanks so much. Just so simple and ridiculously tasty 🙂

  3. Tora May 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    Looks delicious. Whole-wheat pasta is delicious I think, more people should eat it! I love your blog, it is so beautiful, Sam. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us 🙂

  4. Sam May 8, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    Thanks Tora (and what a cute avatar pic of an otter) – I love WW pasta at pretty much its all I eat at home now.

  5. Brooke May 10, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Sam, do you think I could add some courgettes somehow into this recipe?

  6. Sam May 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    Hi Brooke, yes I think zucchini will work well, just steam the slices before you toss them in at the end after the egg and cheese has been added.
    S x

  7. Georgia Rose May 18, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    Yum, just made this for dinner for me & my bf and it was great. I squeezed two lemons over it and added lots of pepper and some chili flakes because I like my food sour and spicy!

  8. Sam May 18, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    HI Georgia, glad you enjoyed. I actually think its one of my favourite new pasta dishes and cant wait to make it again.

  9. Jess June 23, 2012 at 3:48 am #

    Awesome recipe. I absolutely loved it.
    Here’s a recipe for Fettuccine Carbonara you may like to try.
    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Sam June 25, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Thanks Jess, carbonara is all kinds of awesome 🙂

  11. Salomé June 28, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    Thanks for this Sam. I’ve been meaning to pop by. I made this last week with baby spinach FROM MY GARDEN! It was incredible!
    Also, how’s your book coming along? When do you think I can go in search of it at Exclusive Books and be able to find it?

  12. Sam June 28, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Hi Salome and so glad you liked the recipe. I too loved it and think its one of my best this year :-). My book will be hitting the shelves in the latter part of July. But I’ll be doing regular updates on it on my blog.

  13. Marianne November 11, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    Sam, do you make the creme fraiche, or do you purchase it pre-made?

  14. Sam November 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    Hi Marianne, I buy creme fraiche ready made.

  15. Nina March 4, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    Hi Sam, I am so grateful to have recently discovered your blog on Fancy of all places. I love it! Your recipes are simple, delicious and exactly how I enjoy cooking. Since I don’t eat egg, do you have a substitution suggestion for the egg in this recipe? Thanks. Nina (Los Angeles, California).

  16. Sam March 4, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    Hi Nina, the egg gives it a distinct silky texture synonymous with carbonara, but I would just substitute with extra cream or creme fraiche which would also be lovely. let me know.
    S x

  17. kylie August 25, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    can we substitue creme fraiche with sour cream?

  18. Sam August 25, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    Hi Kylie, yes you can.


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